Archive for category Pastors and Such
A video of a North Carolina pastor was making the rounds of the internet recently. Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church begins a diatribe on placing “lesbins, q-u-weers, and hom-o-sessuals” (that’s how he pronounces the words) in what amounts to concentration camps so they will die out.
The video has over a million hits on Youtube and has generated so much traffic that it crashed the congregation’s website. Needless to say, every Christian blogger has jumped in and linked to it, so I feel that I must cave to the peer pressure and post it here. (Wait, is that considered cyber-pressure?)
Now, you might be asking me how I feel about the things that Pastor Worley had to say. First, I need to say that this kind of rhetoric is nothing new to me. I grew up going to revival meetings where the “Sodomites” we’re ruining our nation. I remember one memorable preacher who said, “The flamers will be flaming alright – when they’re burning in HHHEEEEEEELLLL!!!!!” (It is hard to get the flavor of the rebel yell that was that last bit, but you get the idea.)
Others like Erik Raymond have written effectively about the warning flags and cautions for us, and I don’t need to repeat it. And I have written before on the subject of the Church and homosexuality, so I won’t retread that road either.
Rather than going over things already addressed, I want to contemplate what I think may be the hidden source of rhetoric like this – and that is fear.
Fear? Yeah. When I watch this guy railing, I cannot help but think that he is harboring a hidden, probably even subconscious fear that he might be “one of them.” He is so busy condemning and diatribing (and where exactly in the Scriptures are we told that building electrified fences to keep undesirables contained?) that he never stops to think about what he is saying. I cannot help but think that his fear drives this craziness.
How does that work? Think about it. If you were to admit that despite knowing the sin in which a homosexual is living you are called to love that homosexual, that would make you a homosexual lover, wouldn’t it? Who loves homosexuals? OTHER HOMOSEXUALS. Do you see? You have to run the opposite direction as fast as you can to prove that you are not a homosexual.
I call this the Gays-Are-Gross Factor.
This is craziness. I cannot tell you how many gay, lesbian and “other” acquaintances and friends I have had over the years. I remember one young man telling me over AOL Instant Messenger (remember that?) that he was gay, and when I acknowledged it without any kind of anger, he was genuinely surprised. Recently, someone I know decided that they were homosexual. (I say “decided” because the person in question is in a “am I?” kind of stage.)
Do I agree with their lifestyle? No, I do not.
And just to be clear, I believe someone can actually be born homosexual. We are all sinners by nature – born into sin. It is written into our DNA, and if you can be born a liar then you can also be born gay. The choice is not to be gay or straight, but rather is whether we will live in what God calls sin or we will accept his righteousness as our own and seek his grace to be conformed to Christ’s image.
We, as followers of Christ need to overcome our fear. We need to find renewed confidence in the grace of Christ, just as the apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians, “such were some of you.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)
Fear says that I could be like “one of them” so run away.
Faith says I am reborn in God’s grace and his grace overcomes all sin.
Instead of fear, we should acknowledge sin while extending grace. Not a one of my gay or lesbian friends is unclear about my position on the subject. But then again, none of my friends living in adultery, fornication, substance abuse, complacency (read sloth) or gluttony are any less aware of my view on those sins as well. I don’t need to be violent or outrageously vocal to make my position any clearer.
Jesus spent his life surrounded by those who did not embrace his teachings. He made his position clear, but he still extended grace. He still loved, even the unlovable and reprehensible. And at the point of repeating myself from other posts, the ones he found most reprehensible were the religious elites – not the whores or lepers or Gentile sinners.
If I have one prayer for the Church in the coming age, it is that we will recognize our own fears and the extremes they take us to. I pray that we would find the voice of gracious strength and that we would become the manifestation of Christ’s truth and grace, held in tension for the world to see.
Not everyone will agree with me, and that’s ok. There are some readers who might even take this article as defending homosexuality – so be it.
I believe God’s grace is greater than man’s outrage. I would rather entrust my gay/lesbian friends to God’s grace than to rely on my own railing and rhetoric.
A couple of days ago, I wrote a blog on Commodus, the Roman emperor who inherited his rule from his father Marcus Aurelius. My original intention had been to write about choosing people who are qualified rather than people you are close to but somehow I got sidetracked.
This entry from Out of Ur got me thinking about that topic again.
I know a lot of pastors who have family members on staff at their churches. I am somewhat ambivalent about it. I love my wife, and for awhile she was our volunteer music director when the church was a little smaller; but whenever someone asks me if we should hire her in a paid role, I tell them no.
Because we should be hiring and selecting the most qualified people and we need to set aside existing relationships in favor of what will accomplish Jesus’ mission most effectively. In some cases, that is a family member but not always.
But even when a family member is the most qualified, they may not be the best fit. In the case of a congregation like Crystal Cathedral in the article, it is possible that the most qualified person was actually Robert A. Schuller, but he did not fit with what the leaders wanted. They wanted him to be his father, and he is not.
I love my family, which is why I keep them at a distance from what I do for a living. The only thing harder than pastoring family is often trying to work with them. That’s just my personal opinion, and has absolutely no Scriptural or theological basis. But for me, I find it is the best course.
How about you? What do you think?
I am re-reading Steven Sample’s book, Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership which my friend Rob gave to me several years ago. Sample is the current president of USC and a former president of SUNY-Buffalo, and a very successful leader in business.
One of the points that Sample makes is that he surrounds himself with a small group of leaders who are required to express their real agendas. This sound so simplistic, but in reality it is a tremendously beneficial practice.
It is something that I am working on developing in my own leadership style. Everyone has an agenda. A lot of times, they don’t even realize that they do. The trick is to get people to acknowledge what they bring to the table.
It is easy to spell out your own plans and agenda, but you have to recognize that people will filter your words through their own agenda. If you know what their agendas are, you can be prepared to get people to see beyond them and work together with shared values.
I actually wrote this list a few years ago, when a friend of mine was struggling with some issues in his congregation. It is meant as a satire, but it is poignant nonetheless. Too often, these kinds of human objections limit the power of the Holy Spirit to direct a congregation.
The Vision Killing Quick Order Menu
In order to avoid the long process of pursuing God’s vision and heart, the following list is provided to assist people in stalling his work in a more orderly and organized manner.
If you’ve eaten at a Chinese restaurant, you know that the waiters often do not speak English. Therefore, you simply order using the numbers – NO SUBSTITUTIONS. You can do the same thing in protesting a move in a church.
During a vision meeting, simply cite the objections by number, like ordering Chinese food.
1.We’ve never tried it before.
2.We tried it before and it didn’t work.
3.Trying it would be too much work.
4.It won’t bring in any tithing members, you know.
5.There are people who will stop tithing if we do it.
6.The older people would never accept it.
7.The newer people would never accept it.
8.‘They’ won’t like it; although they’ll never tell you to your face.
9.Our former pastor would never have done something like this.
10.Our former pastor did something like this, hence the ‘former’.
11.We couldn’t do it until we have a new building.
12.Our church is too small to try that.
13.Our church is too big to try that now.
14.I need more time to think and pray about how to get people to oppose it.
15.Let’s assign it to a committee so they can discuss it forever.
16.It is not in the budget so it must wait until it is.
17.We don’t have the money for it and would have to give more.
18.We have the money but want to use the money for our own agendas.
19.It’s too ______ (insert name of controversial group) for us.
20._____ (insert name of big time preacher) teaches against it.
21.People won’t commit to it because their doing other stuff.
22.People will commit to it and not to the other stuff we do.
23.Ok, but what do we do when it doesn’t work?
24.Jesus didn’t have to do that to minister.
25.It could ruin our carpet.
26.We could get sued.
27.That’s what we hire the pastor for.
Thanks to GeekRev for posting a link to lifehacker’s quick review of Windows 8′s Metro UI.
I am not a fan of the UI, personally. It probably works great with a phone or tablet, but I can’t imagine working with it on a large screen. I have the same feeling toward the way Apple added the Launchpad from iOS to Mac OS 10.7. It just seems awkward and unnecessary.
Kurt Willems shared this from Tim Hawkins. It made me laugh.
The guys who lead music for our congregation (it’s mostly men, and we don’t have a “worship leader”) are not like this, but here ya go:
Many of us have wound up in services where the worship leader was either over emotional or way, way too friendly (in a Rock Hudson meets Liberace at Elton John’s place kind of too friendly, if you get my drift).
So, I provide for you an oldie but a goodie – Jon Acuff’s Metrosexual Worship Leader Scorecard. I think it is safe to say that all of our musicians would score very low on this card – which is a good thing, like in golf.
Here is the scorecard for those who don’t want to click the link:
As a service to churches around the world, here is an easy rating system by which to analyze to what degree your worship leader is a metrosexual.
1. Has a faux hawk hair style = +1
2. Has more product in his hair than your wife = +1
3. Has Rob Bell, black rimmed glasses = +1
4. They are not prescription, but just for effect = +2
5. Attends the Catalyst Conference = +3
6. Performs at the Catalyst Conference = +10
7. Owns Puma, Vans or Diesel sneakers = +2 per each pair
8. Wears jeans on stage = +1
9. Wears designer jeans on stage = +2
10. Wears Wrangler or Rustler jeans on stage = -3
11. Has a goatee = +2
12. Wears one of those Castro revolution looking hats = +2
13. Drinks coffee on stage = +1
14. Drinks some kind of coffee you did not know existed = +2
15. Brings a French Press on stage and makes his own coffee during service = +5
16. Has a handlebar mustache = -3
17. Good at Frisbee but hates getting all “sweaty” = +1
18. Has a haircut that covers one of his eyes while singing = +1
19. Owns a white belt = +2
20. Owns suspenders = -3
21. Wears a scarf with a t-shirt = +1
22. Wears a winter knit hat even in the summer = +2
23. You think he covered a My Chemical Romance song last week = +3
24. Drives an Audi or VW, silver of course = +2
25. Uses the words, “postmodern, relevant” or “emergent” nonstop = +2
26. Cringes a little when people say the “H word.” (Hymnal) = +3
27. Has ever said some form of the phrase, “That song is so 1990s” = +1
28. Owns a Grizzly Adams red and black flannel shirt = -2
29. Named his kid after a color or a number = +2
30. References Norwegian punk bands you’ve never heard of = +2
31. Wears a tie = -1
32. Wears a tie as a belt = +2
33. Looks as if he might exfoliate = +2
34. Has a man bag or European Carry All = +2
35. Brings said bag on stage with him = +2
36. Has a tattoo = +2
37. Has a visible tattoo = +4
38. Wife accompanies him on stage and plays tambourine = -4
39. Was formerly in a punk new wave band = +2
40. Knows the names of all the people on the scripted MTV show, “the Hills” = +3
41. Refuses to drink anything but Vitamin Water = +2
42. Your wife ever says, “he needs a barrette for his hair.” = +2
43. Has a nickname with “the” in it, as in “the edge,” = +2
44. Owns every Nooma video = +2
45. Has a soul patch = +3
46. Won’t play barefoot on stage until he gets a pedicure = +2
47. Refers to California as “the left coast” = +2
48. Currently subscribes to Dwell or Details magazine = +2
49. Owns a pair of lady jeans = +2
50. Twitters you from his iPhone = +2
51. His toddler dresses cooler than you = +2
52. He wears graphic t-shirts over button down, long sleeve shirts = +2
53. Ever says “we got a hot mic here” = -4
54. Shops at the Gap = 0
55. Shops at Urban Outfitters = +2
I scored one of the worship leaders at North Point and he did pretty well. At some point I will do a lady version, but for right now, I feel like a 55 item list of analyzing worship leaders is enough to earn me a new batch of “you are weird” emails, and at the end of the day, that’s all I can ask for.
What does your worship leader score?
***This is a repost of an excellent article from Ed Stetzer. You can find the original here.***
One of the great benefits of the articles in found in the HCSB Study Bible is the high academic quality of the content. These articles aren’t fluff. They are seminary-lecture-quality articles. Last week’s hermeneutical look at the word apostello is a great example of this.
This week we take a closer look at the historical reliability of the New Testament– a topic you will find in a New Testament or Church History class at a seminary like Gordon-Conwell, Trinity, or SEBTS.
As I’m doing all year long, I am giving away a free HCSB study Bible to a commenter. To be entered to win this week’s giveaway, share with us your thoughts on the New Testament.
The New Testament (NT) contains four biographies of Jesus (the Gospels), one history book of the early church (Acts), twenty-one letters (Romans to Jude), and an apocalypse (Revelation). While the letters and the apocalypse contain references to historical events, the Gospels and Acts are written as straightforward historical narratives. These are the NT books about which it makes particularly good sense to ask the question, “Are they historically reliable?” Twelve lines of evidence converge to suggest strongly that the answer is “yes.”
First, we have over 5,700 Greek manuscripts representing all, or part, of the NT. By examining these manuscripts, over 99 percent of the original text can be reconstructed beyond reasonable doubt. We also discover that no Christian doctrine or ethic depends solely on one of the doubted texts. These facts do not prove that the NT is true, but it does mean we know what the original writers wrote. Without this assurance, the question of historical reliability is pointless.
Second, the authors of the Gospels and Acts were in an excellent position to report reliable information. Matthew and John were among the twelve disciples Jesus Himself chose; Mark was a close companion of Peter and Luke (who also wrote Acts) and traveled extensively with Paul. Even critical scholars who doubt the traditional attributions of authorship agree that these five books were written by followers of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which still puts them in a good place to tell the stories accurately.
Third, these five books were almost certainly written in the first century, within sixty to seventy years of Jesus’ death (most likely in a.d. 30). Conservatives typically date Matthew, Mark, and Luke-Acts to the 60s and John to the 80s or 90s. Liberals suggest slightly later dates, typically placing Mark in the 60s or 70s, Matthew and Luke-Acts in the 80s, and John in the 90s. Even if one accepts the later dates, the amount of time separating the historical events and the composition of the five books is very short as compared to most ancient historical and biographical accounts, where many centuries could intervene between events and the books that narrated them.
Fourth, ancient Jews and Greeks meticulously cultivated the art of memorization, committing complex oral traditions to memory. Even before the Gospels or any other written sources about Jesus were compiled, Jesus’ followers were carefully passing on accounts of His teachings and mighty works by word of mouth. This kept the historical events alive until the time they were written down.
Fifth, the ancient memorization and transference of sacred tradition allowed for some freedoms in retelling the stories. Guardians of the tradition could abbreviate, paraphrase, prioritize, and provide commentary on the subject matter as long as they were true to the gist or meaning of the accounts they passed on. This goes a long way to explaining both the similarities and the differences among the four Gospels. All four authors were true to the gist of Jesus’ life, yet they exercised reasonable freedom to shape the accounts in ways they saw fit.
Sixth, the fact that these writers had distinct ideological or theological emphases does not mean they distorted history, as is often alleged. Oftentimes the very cause that a historian or biographer supports requires them to write their accounts accurately, for they know that their cause will be undermined if they are charged with bias or distortion. The first Christians had the uphill battle of promoting a crucified Messiah and His bodily resurrection. Had they been known to have falsified the details of their accounts to any significant degree, their movement would have been squelched from the outset.
Seventh, Luke’s prologue (Lk 1:1-4) closely parallels the form and content of other works of generally reliable historians and biographers of antiquity, most notably Josephus, Herodotus, and Thucydides. The Gospel writers clearly believed that they were writing historically accurate works, not fiction or embellished history.
Eighth, the so-called hard sayings of Jesus support their authenticity. If the Gospel writers felt free to distort what Jesus originally said in order to increase the attractiveness of Christianity, why would they preserve unmodified His difficult and easily misunderstood teachings about hating family members (Lk 14:26) or not knowing when He would return (Mk 13:32)? The fact that they let these teachings stand indicates their faithfulness to recount true history.
Ninth, the fact that the NT does not record Jesus speaking about many of the topics that arose after His earthly life, during the time of the early church, supports its historical accuracy. For instance, early Christians were divided over how or whether the laws of Moses applied to Gentile converts (Ac 15). The easiest way to settle the controversy would be to cite Jesus’ teachings on the matter, but the Gospels record no such teachings. This silence suggests that the Gospel writers did not feel free to play fast and loose with history by putting on the lips of Jesus teachings that could solve early church controversies.
Tenth, the testimony of non-Christian writers supports the details of the Gospels and Acts. About a dozen ancient Jewish, Greek, and Roman writers mention Jesus. Taken together, their writings attest to the basic contours of Jesus’ life. Many names of people and places, as well as the exploits of first-century political and religious leaders, are attested in other writings of the day.
Eleventh, archaeology regularly confirms details about geography, topography, customs, artifacts, buildings, tombs, inscriptions, and graffiti that are mentioned in NT–the Gospels and Acts in particular.
Twelfth, the portions of the NT that were written before the completion of the Gospels and Acts confirm the historicity of these five books. For instance, Paul, James, and Peter show multiple signs of quoting or alluding to teachings and actions of Jesus in letters they wrote before the Gospels were written. Their quotes and allusions agree with what we find in the Gospels. This indicates that the Gospels are in tune with the very earliest writings about Jesus–the NT epistles. These earliest writings were in turn dependent on the authoritative oral traditions that were passed on by eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life. Paul expresses this in 1Co 15:3-8, where he lists the beliefs he had “received” from these eyewitnesses when he became a Christian no more than two years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. These are no late, slowly developing legends he is reporting!
Craig L. Blomberg
Ph.D. University of Aberdeen